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have done what you could' for your sacred charge, you have every reason to look forward with hope. • God will take up their education where you leave it.' Their characters may require to be 'perfected by suffering.' The etherealizing of their spiritual nature may be begun in weakness, it will be completed in strength. The germ of their eternal happiness may be sown in darkness, fear not it will be raised in light. S. J. W.
(Continued from p. 664.) In entering again on the subject of penal jurisprudence, we will for the present pass over that part of it which relates to capital punishments, considering them as condemned by the enlightened and cultivated of all nations, and speedily, we trust, to be erased, as a bloody page, from our code. We will now solicit the attention of our readers to the consideration of secondary punishments, to which the public mind is at this time especially directed, and on which we fear that many erroneous opinions are in danger of gaining ground. And, in the first instance, we would premise, that capital punishments may be abolished, while the ignorant and vindictive spirit that dictated them may still survive, and may be put forth on the unfortunate beings to be experimented on, in forms as painful and excruciating to the prisoner, though less appalling in name and appearance to the public. This has been the case in many instances in America, where severe and protracted punishments, in the form of solitary confinement, &c., have resulted in melancholy, and not unfrequently in confirmed insanity and suicide. We greatly regret that there appears to be a disposition in this country, at the present time, to very severe and unnecessary secondary punishments, and that a re-action is taking place, in which our legislators, having formerly, to their disgrace, left many of our prisons in a shameful state of vice, intoxication, and confusion, are now (losing sight of the important virtue of moderation) running into the opposite extreme, and are desirous of making them, not a scene of progressive improvement and moral reforms, but of a series of cruel, of puerile, and of unrelaxing punishments. It is an easy regulation, to insist on perpetual silence day and night in a prison, to enforce it with the lash, and to make machines of its inmates : but it is a nobler and more difficult task to reform a brutal, and to educate an ignorant man ; to ascertain his moral wants, and to excite in him moral perceptions. Indeed, some of our advocates for severe punishment put reformation almost out of sight; or, at least, by their own propositions, avow that they, at all events, consider it
impracticable. The reason of this impracticability is, that the great truth has never been recognized till recently, that reformation cannot take place without education; and that education cannot take place without a suitable number of teachers, and a proper systematized apparatus for the purpose. There are three ways of disposing of criminals : the first is by death ; the second, punishment; the third, education: and the two former methods have been tried from time immemorial without success; the third has seldom been attempted, never as a generally adopted system : but in the individual institutions in which it has been tried, it has been attended with the happiest results, and has exhibited a beautiful instance of the power of right principles, judiciously exercised, over even the worst and most depraved of human minds. This system requires an adequate number of teachers—moral and enlightened men—to all the prisons, and an excellent library to each of books suited to the moral and religious wants of the inmates, in which instruction is made interesting to them. We need scarcely add that this library ought not to be made a sectarian selection, but provided with works chiefly practical ; and that where religion is introduced, all religious opinions should be admitted. Such a library ought to be appended to every prison, with a committee to superintend it. In a former paper we mentioned a plan for prison reformers, on the system of the Prussian Normal Schools, for educating schoolmasters, and providing them with adequate salaries; and we here beg to mention that we consider it highly desirable, that the female department should be attended by women, likewise educated for this purpose in similar institutions; and visited also by a committee of ladies for regular inspection. A little reflection on Mrs. Fry's labours will prove, that there are no difficulties which may not be overcome by a conduct dictated by combined firmness and kindness. This system of improvement and of education, is entirely incompatible with one of severity and of punishment. On this there are some just and admirable remarks in Mr. Simpson's appendix to his work on national education, a work which will do him immortal honour:
He says, ' It is a solecism to attempt an interchange of kindliness, when your subject's back is smarting and bleeding from the lashes of your scourge, and he mortally hates, and could murder bis tormentor. You may quell his thirst for vengeance by the power of your position ; but his stripes must heal, and his resentment cool, before you will do more than waste your breath to talk to him of justice, or mercy, or industry, or self-respect, or piety. He must have time to come round from the settled sullenness of the degrading tread-wheel, that brute labour, before he will be in the mood to respect either himself or the society that torments him ; nor is it with the same breath that he can be insulted, vilified, abused, and tyrannically commanded, and also led,
by the gentler accents of persuasion, to exchange a ruffian character, aggravated by ill-usage and goaded to revenge, for a temper of peace and good will to all around him. It is one of the fallacies which result from ignorance of the nature and working of the human mind, to expect reformation as a result of punishment. They excite feelings the antipodes of each other, and which, therefore, can as little co-exist as the noonday of London and New Zealand. It is a deplorable error that you can force reform—that you can, in the active sense, reform the convict. He must reform himself. It is your part to take care that you do not hinder him by your punishments, but that, on the contrary, you lead him to will to amend, by quieting his animal, and calling into activity his moral feelings; gradually bringing back his self-respect, by according him a portion of your approbation as he deserves it; and stimulating his industry, by realizing to him its fruits in a marked melioration of his condition, and improvement of his prospects; with the alternate reward of restoration to society furnished with a means of livelihood, and a re-established character, and not without the patronage and countenance of the friends and well-wishers of a genuine return to virtue.'
In objection to the excellent remarks just quoted, it has been observed that by reforming the prisoner you are in danger of making him more comfortable and happy than many of his class who have never committed crimes, and thus holding out a bad example to society. On this principle, you must brutalize him by your punishments, and make a machine of him by your regulations ; for you cannot reform him without kindness and consideration, without respect for his repentance, and compassion for his sufferings. But let it be remembered, that if the vicious corrupt, the good also purify, and that every prisoner who is really educated and reformed has a sphere, however contracted, of moral influence, and that by curing the most depraved, a moral gangrene is prevented from spreading over the nation. The deeper sunk a man may be in crime, the more imperative is the necessity for his cure; and that legislator has no conception of the most important truths, has no knowledge of the human heart, and the means by which it may be reached, who can give up any human being, at any period of life, as totally irreclaimable, or who does not see that the national safety is based, not on the punishment, but on the regeneration of the vicious. Can we call ourselves Christians, and yet put hindrances, by our cruel and ignorant devices in prison discipline, to this most benevolent and desirable undertaking ? What will a hard mechanical system ever effect, bereft of the vitality of a moral spirit, but an external and enforced submission to cover a burning and aggravated heart? And what will the new secondary punishment of perpetual silence, which is proposed to be inflicted, achieve, but a train of lingering, nervous diseases, and a large amount of very unnecessary suffering ? Used in moderation, and alleviated by a daily system of instruction and kind communication by the
teachers, it may be extremely valuable; but enforced by the lash, and inflicted both day and night without interruption, the probabilities are that it will lead to the most disastrous results. On this head, see the following note from Mr. Simpson's work, before referred to:
• There are some temperaments on which long enforced silence seems to operate most alarmingly; these, I should conjecture, are stout, healthy, active, bustling, social and talkative persons, who have a strong impulse to speak. That there is such an impulse cannot be doubted, and the American prisoners bore their testimony, that its enforced and long continued restraint is in the highest degree painful. If this be true, we can conceive the impulse becoming morbid. Mr. Rose, the humane and enlightened governor of the National Jail at Edinburgh, lately communicated to me a painful confirmation of this conjecture. "J. C. was, three years ago, sentenced by the High Court of Justiciary to fourteen years' transportation, which was commuted for confinement in the Millbank Penitentiary, where silence is enforced with a rigidity not exceeded in America. The man was about twenty-seven years
age, of unusually strong, robust health, accustomed to a life of great bodily and considerable mental activity, and was particularly impatient, irritable, assuming and talkative. This most unfit subject for the Tailors' board, was nevertheless squatted upon one, and forbid to utter a syllable under pain of severe punishment! The unwonted employment, and still more unwonted silence, affected his mind; and one day, during the chapel service, he started up and burst into the most maniacal denunciations against the preacher and his doctrine, which he continued till he was taken away, and put in confinement. It was found that he had become so decidedly insane, that it was necessary to remove him to a lunatic hospital; it might have been assumed that so unnatural a state as continued silence for months or years, cannot be free from evil effects. The experiment is at best empirical, and there is something revolting in such blind trials, when productive of severe human suffering.'
In addition to this remark of Mr. Simpson, we would add, that these experiments are, in our eyes, not only disgusting but unjust. If there be truth in Christianity, and if its spirit is to influence our conduct, then we are not to infringe the rights of the lowest or most depraved of human beings; and these refinements of cruelty are entirely prohibited. We are not of those who believe that anything can be expedient that is contrary to the law of justice, and the law of love, and we think that the soundest and truest philosophy is, to enforce the great principles of Christianity in all the departments of human action, and to bring every human being in our power, under its holy and spiritualizing influences. We know there may be persons who will smile at this as a sort of Utopian theory, and who look upon the guilty as so many outcasts from the world who cannot be cured, but who must be disposed of as well as they can, for the convenience of society, and who are entirely beyond all virtuous or improving influences. We envy them not; we bid them remember the immortality of our common nature, and not look with scorn, however it may be defaced, on what God himself has so nobly endowed. The beings to whom he has opened the door of repentance in his revelation, and so mercifully invited to return to him, whom he has so graciously promised to receive and to pardon, and whom he pities in the lowest depths of their sin ; the beings whom our Saviour came on earth to regenerate, over whom he poured his holy and benign tears, whom he laboured to serve and to reclaim, amongst whom he daily toiled and prayed, with whom he sat down in all his spotless purity in familiar and intimate communion, and eat and drank at the same table, these are not the beings for our contempt or our cruelty, for our hatred or our experiments. They are our brethren still--partakers of the same nature, heirs of the same Gospel, called io the same future life; and we ought to endeavour to lead them to Christianity, and to treat them, as becomes ourselves, as Christians. We would ask, what accordance there is between the present systems of prison discipline, and this humane and beautiful religion; between the influence of the law of love, and the lash and the treadmill ? Let those who, out of their own mistaken views or unfeeling hearts, would enforce a system of vengeance and terror on these unfortunate beings, and contrive fresh torments to supersede the past, go to this holy volume, and study its blessed precepts, and drink in a deeper faith and a purer love for the nature they despise, and learn to be ashamed of this heartless scepticism, this distrust of the power of the best influences of religion and of virtue.
Were this done, we should hear no more of these extreme trials, these puerile inventions; but a great moral engine of education would be set at work upon the guilty; and the labourers in this noble work would be full of hope, and delight themselves in such an enterprise. With what deep interest would they see the scales of ignorance removing from the blinded sight, and the brutal man growing gradually humane; see the lips of the blasphemer moved in prayer, and the hardened child resuming the innocent tenderness of its years, and feel that this was their work, the result of their toil, their perseverance, their unwearied philanthropy; that this is practicable, and that it will one day be effected, we do not doubt. And in conclusion we would press upon every individual, the importance of their contributing to this great end, by their influence in society upon its prejudices and its opinions, and we beg them to use their best efforts for the amelioration of the present condition of the helpless and degraded prisoner.